And just like that, in an old red barn at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, I found the elusive magic I had glimpsed only between the pages of great love stories. It fluttered around me like a newborn butterfly and settled in a corner of my heart. I held my breath, afraid to exhale, for fear it would slip out, never to be found again.
FIRST 6 STAR RATING OF THE YEAR!!!!!
If you’ve been looking for a story that will sweep you away, one that you will feel with all of your heart and soul, one that will take on a journey unlike any you’ve been on, one that’ll break your heart and then put it back together, then this is the book for you!!! From the moment I heard about it, I knew I had to read it. And now, having finished it, I can say with full certainty that THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. Leylah Attar’s breathtaking writing depicts vivid imagery with evocative prose that immerses you in the story and makes you feel every moment in your heart. Reading this book was a reaffirmation in everything that makes me love reading. It is a profoundly beautiful and unparalleled reading experience that I can’t recommend highly enough!
Once in Africa, I kissed a king…
“And just like that, in an old red barn at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, I discovered the elusive magic I had only ever glimpsed between the pages of great love stories. It fluttered around me like a newly born butterfly and settled in a corner of my heart. I held my breath, afraid to exhale for fear it would slip out, never to be found again.”
When a bomb explodes in a mall in East Africa, its aftershocks send two strangers on a collision course that neither one sees coming.
Jack Warden, a divorced coffee farmer in Tanzania, loses his only daughter. An ocean away, in the English countryside, Rodel Emerson loses her only sibling.
Two ordinary people, bound by a tragic afternoon, set out to achieve the extraordinary, as they make three stops to rescue three children across the vast plains of the Serengeti—children who are worth more dead than alive.
But even if they beat the odds, another challenge looms at the end of the line. Can they survive yet another loss—this time of a love that’s bound to slip through their fingers, like the mists that dissipate in the light of the sun?
“Sometimes you come across a rainbow story—one that spans your heart. You might not be able to grasp it or hold on to it, but you can never be sorry for the color and magic it brought.”
I found myself smiling so often as I read, not because of what was happening in the story, but from the sheer joy of reading such a beautifully written book. Over and over again, I’d read a certain passage and just stop, take a deep breath, highlight it, and then read it again — savoring the words. It usually takes me a couple hours to read a book, but it took me almost three days to read this one because I tried to read it as slowly as I could — I wasn’t just reading this book, I was experiencing the story. I believe that it’s a reflection of an incredibly perceptive author when they not only weave together a great story, but also show a keen understanding of human nature through their words.
There’s an unspoken rule about how long you can stare like that at another person. No one says it, but we all know it. There is the quick glance we give to strangers, the acknowledgement we exchange with people we know, the private joke, the silent acceptance, the lover’s gaze, the parent’s concern. Our eyes are always different, always speaking. They meet and look away, a thousand nuances expressed without words. And then there’s this. Whatever was passing between Jack and me in the middle of that ancient caldera. Perhaps it was because we didn’t know exactly where we fit — two people bound by a sunny, tragic afternoon, retreating from the edge of attraction — lives that were oceans apart, breaths that lingered in the space between.
I’ve been asked a lot what ‘kind’ of book this is. It feels wrong to try to label it but I can tell you that this book fully fits the definition of a Romance genre novel (complete with an ending that’ll make your heart soar), but it’s more than that. It’s a love story set against a backdrop of a devastating loss, an exhilarating journey, and a thrilling race to save a group of endangered children. It’s a story of loss and love, courage and sacrifice, and the full circle of healing. But ultimately, this is absolutely a breathtakingly beautiful romance unlike any other I’ve ever read.
“How is he now?”
“Intimidating. Sad, angry, bitter. I think he might have a death wish. He was standing under a tree in the storm, by his daughter’s grave, like he wanted to be struck down right next to her.”
“In a thousand lives, I would die a thousand deaths to save her. Over and over and over again.”
It was barely a brush, but his entire body tightened in reaction. I felt the quieting of his breath on my face, the jolt of his thigh against my body, the crackle of awareness where his bare arms touched mine. I felt the kind of chemistry I’d been holding out for, the kind that ignites all your senses, so that you’re more alive in that one second than in all the moments, in all the days before.
Losing someone you love tunes you in to the fragility of life — of moments and memories and music. It makes you want to embrace all the foolish, inarticulate longings that pull at your heart. It makes you want to grasp un-played notes of un-played symphonies. Perhaps that was why Jack and I clung to that moment, eyes locked, breaths stilled, listening to something that only we could hear, something that lived in the fleeting space between hello and goodbye.
As someone who has never visited Africa, I loved seeing the continent through Rodel’s eyes. And despite the intensely emotional backdrop to this story, and the beauty of the culture, I also found myself chuckling over and over again.
To his credit, Jack kept a straight face.
I ripped into the biscuits before he got in the car.
“Not a fan of the local cuisine?” he asked.
“Not a fan of roasted entrails, local or otherwise.”
But on a more serious note… Certain scenes just gave me these full body CHILLS!! Oh my gosh, there’s this one particular scene in the mist by the tent when ****** happens and seriously, I got shivers from head to toe, tears sprang to my eyes, and these waves of emotion just kept coursing through me. ALL. THE. FEEEEEEEELS!!!
The first half of the book is beautiful but a little slower paced — I read it over the course of two separate days. But the second half — OH MY HOLY HEAVENS!!!! I sat down at my kitchen table in the morning expecting to just read a chapter or two and was literally swept away by the rest of the story. I cancelled my day plans the minute I started crying and I honestly wavered between crying and almost crying from that point until the very end of the book. The more I read, the harder I cried, and the more deeply I fell in complete and utter LOVE with this book. ——- I want to stress though that THIS IS NOT A SAD STORY. Yes, there are painful scenes, but these were not tears of sadness. They were just an overflow of the emotions that this story was drawing out of me.
His gaze traveled over my face for a long time, still beat before falling on my neck.
“I can’t bear the thought of you leaving,” he said to the mark his teeth had left there.
“I stop breathing every time I think about it.”
I felt this story in my soul. I will remember it forever. One day, when enough time has passed for the story to be fresh again, I know I will come back and read it all over again to experience the book magic again.
I rate books out of 5 stars. 5 stars is pure perfection in my eyes and is generally the highest rating I will give. However, I reserve a very rare 6 star rating for books that are not only perfect to me but also pull an extraordinary amount of emotion from my heart. There are very few books that ever had as strong an emotional impact on me as this one did. In the last four years, I have only rated one or two books each year with my highest rating of 6 stars. But this book has undeniably earned that rating because I know I will carry this story with me for the rest of my life.
I wish I could explain to you what that voice does to me.
I wish I could explain to you how you make me feel.
I don’t think I’ll ever fall as hard and as fast for anyone, the way I fell for you.
I don’t think I’ll ever love anyone the way I love you.
I now have the book hangover of the century. I’m not ready to let this story go. I can’t let it go. I want to keep reliving it, re-reading it. I want to experience this majestic love story over and over again and let it keep sinking deeper into my heart. Every time I re-read quotes, tears fill my eyes and the feels come flooding back — the beauty, the love, the loss, the healing, all of it. In every way, this is an unforgettable story.
I knew that whenever I thought of love, it would have a face, a name, a voice. And I would hear its heart beating from inside a tent in the wilds of Africa.
It is a truly rare and precious thing to come across a story as powerful as this one — as beautiful, as intensely emotional, as evocative and unique. This book represents the reason I love to read. It’s the diamond in the rough. It’s the book that, ten years later, you think of and your heart skips a beat. It’s a master piece of storytelling. I hope Leylah Attar never writing books because as long as she keeps writing them, I will be reading them.
Please do yourself a favor and read this book. Set aside some time in your life to just immerse yourself in this story. It is an unparalleled reading experience you don’t want to miss. I recommend it to everyone with all my heart!
Rating: 6 STARS!!!!! Standalone Romance/Women’s Fiction.
PS: I know some of you will need to know this, so if you want to know if this has a happy ending, just click below.